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Magazines are Dead, Right? Hearst’s Linda Frisone Gamber Dispels the Myth

Is print really dead? The question has been on-going since the digital explosion in the early 2000s, with news publications like CNN Money, AdAge and Forbes chiming into the discussion. According to Linda Frisone Gamber, the Group Advertising Director at Hearst Magazines, print, specifically print magazines, aren’t going anywhere. In a conversation with Lecturer Judy Franks’ IMC304: Media and Message Delivery students on Wednesday, Jan. 20, Gamber brought proof to the table showing magazines are here to stay.

“Magazines are indeed not dead; the most telling proof is that magazine readership has remained stable over the last 10 years, despite what the press might have us believe,” Gamber said. “In fact, today, data shows that 95 percent of people under the age of 25 read magazines – Millennials are avid magazine readers.  This young consumer segment represents the largest percentage of magazines readers.”

Gamber oversees large-scale corporate advertising and marketing partnerships for Hearst in the Midwest, including partnerships with such global partners like KraftHeinz, Kellogg’s, Walgreens and Target, to name a few.  Hearst Magazines is the largest magazine publisher in the world, with 21 U.S. magazine brands and over 300 international editions.

While at Hearst, and in the era of "print is dead," Gamber worked on most recent successful magazine launches: HGTV magazine, Food Network magazine and Dr. Oz’s The Good Life magazine.  Previously, she spent seven years at Time Inc., on the launch team for InStyle Magazine.  In her current role at Hearst, Gamber is also deeply involved in Hearst’s larger scale digital partnerships and on Hearst’s evolution of advertising strategy in the digital and social age.

To Gamber, successful advertising is all about knowing the customer’s needs exceptionally well, and knowing how to navigate the modern media landscape with best in class strategies. She says it starts with knowing your brand.

“Magazines have remained vital as the digital world brings change and disruption because, as a medium, magazines are most grounded in the importance of building a brand,” Gamber said. “As advertisers look for new ways to connect with consumers, the industry has evolved from standard advertising to advertorial promotions to co-branded or native content.” 

For Hearst, credibility is the biggest factor. 

“Co-branded content is not a consumer negative - it can actually help provide more perspective for brand consideration within the purchase funnel.  In the right context, advertising pages are ultimately an information service for our readers,”  Gamber said.

One of Hearst’s most successful magazine brands is Cosmopolitan Magazine. Notably, Cosmopolitan is the number one title on newsstands industry-wide, an indicator of a lasting brand. But in this evolving media era, Cosmopolitan continues reach new brand heights across platforms. As an example, Cosmopolitan was the first brand to successfully launch on Snapchat, with large viewership on that vehicle today.  Cosmo’s launch was so successful that Snapchat approached Hearst to broaden the Cosmo model to create other brand silos on the platform. Gamber said the Cosmopolitan voice on social media is distinct and strong, and like many magazine brands at Hearst, has built exponential new consumer engagements across multiple digital and social platforms.

For Cosmopolitan, all of this leads to a greater purpose – to help millions of engaged, enthused, engrossed young women every month navigate the vast marketplace of consumer products and offerings curated just for them. This, Gamber said, is the power of magazines.

Medill Lecturer Judy Franks believes strongly that bringing guest speakers into the classroom helps students bridge theory and practice, a required component of successful learning.

“Our coursework focuses on the catalyst for this change and then provides students with a framework to understand what they see in the real world,” Franks said. “Linda was able to demonstrate several of the key concepts in the classroom as they unfold across Hearst magazine brands, their audiences and the marketers who seek to engage their customers through integrated marketing programs."

Students like Michelle Levin (WCAS16, IMC Certificate) and DS Shin (SoC/WCAS17, IMC Certificate) agree that guest speakers are a strong value-add to the classroom experience.

“The IMC program teaches students a lot of applicable lessons, and the best way to learn is through other people's very applicable life experiences,” Levin said. “Hearing from high-level executives with years of successful experiences is so beneficial and influential.”

“Especially because the media and marketing industry changes so fast, it is fascinating to hear what is actually going on in the [real] world,“ Shin said.

For more information on our IMC programs, or to see what other high profile guest speakers Medill faculty bring into the classroom, visit our website.